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Multi-scale dynamic modeling and simulation of a biorefinery

Biorefineries are a promising approach to produce chemicals and fuels from sustainable natural resources in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the dependency on fossil raw materials. Techniques from computer-aided process design play an important role in increasing competitiveness of bio-based processes compared with existing conventional processes. During early-stage process design, a large number of product and process alternatives have to be analyzed and compared with respect to economic and environmental criteria using mathematical optimization.

In the joint project “BEPROMOD – Incremental multi-scale and multi-disciplinary Modeling of Processes in Bioeconomy”, which was funded by the Bioeconomy Science Center (BioSC), partners from RWTH Aachen and IBG-1 Forschungszentrum Jülich developed a multi-scale modeling framework that allows dynamic modeling and simulation of complex biorefinery processes. Core element is a Modelica library of (bio)chemical unit operations for modelling various sub-processes during the conversion of renewable raw materials into desired value-added products. The modular approach allows existing models to be easily extended and individual sub-models to be exchanged when new biological or process knowledge becomes available. To demonstrate the practical relevance of the approach a two-step biorefinery model is implemented, describing the dynamics of the OrganoCat pretreatment process and the microbial conversion of lignocellulose-derived sugars by the model organism Corynebacterium glutamicum.

The study was published in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering and is freely accessible under:

Graphic Modelica-based multi-scale and multi-disciplinary modeling framework